Warrantless Motorcycle Search

A Virginia man was arrested after a police officer walked onto his driveway and pulled back a tarp covering a stolen motorcycle.

The exceptions of the Fourth Amendment dates back to a warrantless search of a suspected bootlegger's car looking for illegal alcohol. In that case, the Supreme Court found that a vehicle could be searched without a warrant as long as police have probable cause to believe it contains contraband or evidence of a crime because cars are mobile, and the evidence can be moved before the police are able to obtain a warrant to search them.

The Virginia case started with two high speed chases of a distinct orange and black motorcycle driven by Ryan Collins. In one chase, a police officer wrote down the motorcycle's license plate and recorded images of it. The number led police to a man who said he sold the motorcycle to Collins after telling him it was stolen. Then an officer looked at Collin's Facebook page, which had photos of an orange and black motor…

NRA v. Florida

The National Rifle Association has sued the Florida Attorney General and Commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement over a recently-passed law that forbids the purchase of rifles by persons under the age of 21.  The law was passed after a public outcry over a massacre at a Florida high school in which a former student who had been expelled from the school used a semi-automatic rifle to shoot and kill many students.  The thought behind the law was that by preventing the sale of rifles to those under age 21, as opposed to 18, this would make it harder for a student or recent student at a school to shoot up the school.

     Enter the NRA.  The NRA, in NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA, INC, V.  PAM BONDI and RICK SWEARINGEN, filed suit seeking a ruling from the United States Distict Court for the Northern District of Florida that the law is unconstitutional and that the chief persons in charge of enforcing that law be prevented from doing so.

     There have been …

Rape, Alcohol, and DNA

Recently I defended a man, we will call him "Fred," accused of rape.  Fred's female accuser had been at a "party" with about 20 other people, including Fred.  The accuser, MC, said she was drunk, went to lie down in her boyfriend's car, and then Fred came to the car, got on top of her, pulled her pants down and raped her.  MC described the weight of his chest pushing down on her hands and that her hands could not move to get free.  She described the act, the sexual penetration, said that it continued for 10-15 minutes while she continually told my client "no," and that he suddenly stopped and walked away without saying a word.

When a rape kit was done, my client's DNA was found in MC's vagina.

An open and shut case?  No.  The jury, which included a rape victim among its members, unanimously acquitted Fred of the charge of rape.

Now for the rest of the story.

     Let's start with Fred's DNA.  The forensic lab that detected Fre…

Off Duty Officer Caught Flying Armed

Former Boston police detective, Bruce Smith, was sentenced to a year's probation and a $7,500 fine for lying to federal officials so he could fly armed on a personal trip and let a friend avoid going through airport security.

Smith agreed to plead guilty to making false statements to the Transportation Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security and unlawfully entering a secure airport area with the intent to evade security requirements.  In addition, Smith also agreed to resign from his sergeant detective position.

Smith's attorney said Smith didn't have an ulterior motive and was just visiting his parents. Prosecutors said that Smith flew with a weapon on over 28 personal trips from Logan International Airport.

The U.S. District Court Judge could have put Smith away for a decade on the airport security breach alone. His friend was not charged.

To fly armed, TSA requires law enforcement officers to pass a TSA flying armed training course and prove an opera…

Guilt Admission by Killer’s Lawyer

A man on death row whose lawyer confessed his guilt while he was proclaiming innocence found a compassionate response from the U.S. Supreme Court. 
The justices struggled to find the line at which attorneys are free to dispense with their client's unreasonable requests.  Justice Stephen Breyer said, "Suppose the opinion were to say in this case the lawyer explicitly said to the jury he is guilty of the crime charged. That the Sixth Amendment forbids. But the rest of these complicated matters, whether it’s elements, whether it’s this, whether it’s that, we leave, at least for now, we leave to the law schools, the bars, the ethics classes and the others because we don’t want to freeze the answer into the Sixth Amendment."  
The case concerns Robert McCoy who was convicted by a Louisiana jury in 2011 of killing the parents and teenage son of his estranged wife.

McCoy claimed that he had been out of the state when the murders took place and that the police were framing him.…

Model in HIV-Positive Ad Suing for Defamation

Model Avril Nolan is suing New York State for defamation. A state appeals court ruled for $1.5 million in damages for using an image without her consent in an ad promoting the rights of people with HIV. The ad by the Division of Human Rights was run in the April 3, 2013 edition of the free daily newspaper AM NY and other local newspapers.

The ad used the words “I am positive (+)” and “I have rights” beside Nolan’s face, above a message in smaller print that stated, “People who are HIV positive are protected by the New York State Human Rights Law. Do you know your rights? Contact the NYS Division of Human Rights.”

Nolan posed for the picture two years earlier for an article about New Yorkers’ music interests. The photographer sold the photo to Getty Images without her consent. Getty Images sells stock images and licensed the photo to the Division of Human Rights.

In addition to suing the state, Nolan is also suing Getty over its licensing of the photo because they incorrectly told the…

Couple to Pay Enslaved Nanny

Texas couple, Chudy and Sandra Nsobundu, pleaded guilty of forcing a Nigerian woman to work as their nanny for two years without pay and has been ordered to pay her more that $121,000 in restitution. They were additionally sentenced to seven months in jail, seven months of home confinement, and three years' probation.

The victim told authorities that the couple recruited her from her home country with an agreement that she'd be paid $100 a month to work for them. From September 2013 and October 2015, she was forced to work 19.5 hour days for the couple and their five children without pay or breaks. She was also subjected to physical and verbal abuse, strictly leftover food as her meals, and denied a bed and warm showers.

To prevent her leaving, she said her passport was taken and she was threatened.

A tip to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center led to the nanny's liberation in 2015, where her paperwork for obtaining a proper US work visa was found to contain fals…